They say that people who cannot tolerate statin drugs because of side effects could use this diet to the same effect.
"Dietary combinations may not differ in potency from first-generation statins in achieving current lipid goals for primary prevention," write David Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto and colleagues in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 81, no 2, pp380-3).
The team tested a 'portfolio' diet, which was high in soy protein, almonds, and cereal fibre as well as plant sterols, on 34 overweight men and women.
They compared it with a low-fat diet and with a normal diet plus a generic statin drug lovastatin.
The portfolio diet was almost as effective as statins, reducing LDL by nearly 30 per cent after a month. Statins lowered LDL by 33 per cent while the low-fat diet reduced LDL 8.5 per cent.
Almost one fifth of global stroke events and more than half of global heart diseases are attributable to high cholesterol levels.
Plant sterol-lowering foods have already been demonstrated in studies to lower cholesterol.